SINGAPORE - A tarantula collector's bid to add to his collection of 92 was foiled during an inspection at Tuas Checkpoint.
The 33-year-old Singaporean man had stopped his car at the checkpoint on Jan 4. An Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officer searched and found six live tarantulas kept individually in containers in a sling bag on his rear passenger seat.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) later did follow-up checks at the man's residence where they seized 92 other tarantulas. The case is now under investigation by AVA, said a joint ICA-AVA statement on Thursday (Jan 11).
The crawlers are currently under the care of Wildlife Reserves Singapore. Tarantulas are some of the world's largest spiders and can grow up to 28cm in length.
They are not allowed to be kept as pets in Singapore. For some other purposes, a permit would be required if these tarantula species are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).
Singapore authorities remind travellers not to bring live animals, birds and insects into the country without a permit. The reason is that some types of wildlife may transmit diseases to humans and pose a public safety risk if they are mishandled or if they escape into the urban environment. Non-native animals may also be a threat to local biodiversity if released into the environment.
"ICA will continue to conduct security checks on cargo, passengers and vehicles at the checkpoints to prevent attempts to smuggle in undesirable persons, drugs, weapons, explosives and other contrabands. AVA will continue to cooperate and collaborate with partner local and international enforcement agencies to curb wildlife trafficking," said the statement.
More information on bringing back animals from abroad can be found at the AVA website or on its mobile app, SG TravelKaki.
It is against the law to possess, advertise for sale or display to the public, including online, any illegal wildlife species protected under Cites.
In 2015, there were 25 cases pertaining to the possession, sale or trade of live wild animals, including Cites and non-Cites animals seized from Singapore's borders, inland possession and online sales.
A total of 463 wild animals were confiscated that year. In 2016, the number of cases rose to 31, with 162 live animals seized.